The first couple of decades of the 20th century were a time of expansion and change for Salt Lake City. Only four years into statehood, the city saw its population double over the next 20 years.
New technologies and increasing prosperity set the tone for the creation of new neighborhoods, filled with homes built in the latest architectural styles, particularly on the city's east side, where expansion had initially been slower.
One of these new developments was Westmoreland Place, located at 1500 East and 1300 South, and the site of this year's Historic Homes Tour.
Westmoreland Place was the brainchild of the Dunshee brothers, Earl and Clark, who planned it as a modern, upscale location that they hoped would appeal to Salt Lake's upwardly mobile business leaders.
A streetcar line ran along the west edge of Westmoreland Place. In newspaper ads of the day, the Dunshee brothers pointed out that the time from the subdivision to downtown was only 18 minutes by streetcar, and the area became known as one of the city's "streetcar subdivisions."
The first houses were built in 1913. Between then and 1952, some 69 houses would be built, primarily in the bungalow style, which was considered the latest, greatest answer to the American Dream of home-ownership.
Westmoreland Place was designated a "National Historic District" in 2010. The Historic Homes Tour, which takes place on Saturday, will feature nine homes, as well as provide an opportunity to see the neighborhood.
"All the homes are within walking distance, all within two square blocks," says Alison Flanders, with the Utah Heritage Foundation, which sponsors the tour. "It's just a great, tight, historic little neighborhood."
The Dunshee brothers required that owners spend at least $3,000 on their home, "and they wouldn't let people build the garage first," says Flanders. "In those days, it was typical for people to build the garage and live in it while they built the house. But the Dunshees wanted this to be an elite neighborhood that would attract people who could afford to pay that much for a house."
The Dunshees had moved from Iowa to Salt Lake City with their parents in the late 19th century. They had both worked for the Salt Lake Herald, Clark as editor and Earl as circulation manager, before turning to real estate development.
They patterned Westmoreland Place after, and in fact took the name from, a development in California by the Greene brothers, architects who are credited with starting the American Craftsman/bungalow movement in the U.S.
Bungalows originated in India, where they were first built for English sailors of the East India Co. and later expanded and improved for English residents during the colonial period. They were typically one-story homes with low-pitched roofs and a front porch. Between about 1905 and 1930, they were the dominant architectural style in the U.S., most commonly built in the Arts & Crafts or Craftsman style, although a number of variations came along.
Interiors had rooms that flowed into each other, richly decorated with wood.
"The idea was to bring the outdoors inside," says Kathy Nielsen of the Utah Heritage Foundation.
What is especially interesting about Westmoreland Place, she adds, is that none of the houses built there have been torn down. And while there are chances to see the archetype bungalow, there are also rarer examples of the California bungalow, which is one-and-a-half-story with a wide, open gable over the front porch; and the "airplane" bungalow, which has a small, second-story room, with windows on all sides, perched on the roof like the cockpit of an airplane.
There are other architectural styles, as well, says Flanders, including an early duplex and some period revival cottages. But the bungalows are a real treat, she says.
Eric and Jennifer Langvardt live in a Prairie-style bungalow, with brick finish, hipped roof and wide eaves, and designed by Clifford Evans and Taylor Woolley, who served as apprentices to Frank Lloyd Wright in his Oak Park studio. It was built in 1919.
"The first thing that jumped out for us was the woodwork, especially the windows and the doors," says Eric Langvardt. "My wife's favorite room was the dining room; mine was the living room. But my second-favorite room was the outside patio."
Although the house has been updated for plumbing and electricity, they have tried to keep the original character, says Langvardt. "We love tinkering with it, bringing it back to the way it was built as much as possible. We really fell in love with it because of the details." Those include such things as striking original green tile in the bathroom.
The house was originally owned by a series of car dealers: first Studebaker, then Dodge and finally a Nash dealer.
In its early years, Westmoreland Place was home to a number of prominent businessmen, says Flanders; men associated with places such as the Paris department store, Auerbach's and the Mode. There were also government workers, a police detective and a state attorney general.
It was quite the neighborhood in those days, says Langvardt, and it still is. "We love being part of this community. We love that there are mature trees and varied landscapes. We love the traditional setting. We just love old houses; you get a feeling that a lot of living has gone on here."
Mikel and Traci O'Very Covey, who live around the corner, agree.
Their bungalow was built in 1914 and features unusual rounded windows and unpainted gumwood interior. The Coveys have lived there for more than 20 years, and have added on to the kitchen area, but in a seamless way that preserves the original lines and feelings of the home.
They have also furnished it with period pieces, including Stickley furniture, five stained-glass doors that came out of a French house designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, antique light fixtures, English Arts & Crafts chairs and an original claw-foot tub.
"We used to go out antiquing every Saturday," says Traci. "It took us awhile to find everything."
They hadn't been much into the Arts & Crafts style before they bought the house, adds Mikel. "But it was like the house was sending us off to find things that would fit in." Luckily, he says, "back then you could still find this kind of furnishings. They've become a lot more scarce."
They love the cozy, warm feel of the house. "It's our sanctuary," says Traci. "And, it's a great neighborhood."
The Coveys were, in fact, instrumental in getting Westmoreland Place declared a historic district.
"That has been very satisfying," says Mikel.
The Covey house is a perfect example, says Nielsen, "of taking advantage of the space you have, of enjoying the space you have. It shows how you don't need huge spaces to live well."
It was the message of Westmoreland Place way back when, and it still is.
If you go...
What: Utah Heritage Foundation Historic Homes Tour
When: Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., rain or shine1 comment on this story
Where: Westmoreland Place, 1300 South and 1500 East; park on the street or at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.
How much: $15 per person in advance; $20 day of tour.
Also: Utah Preservation Conference, Thursday and Friday, May 12-13. Free lecture, by Don Rypkema on the economics of preservation, Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Salt Lake Main Library; awards luncheon, Friday, noon, Masonic Temple. For more information, visit the website or call 801-533-0858.